Graduate student Yangmingyue (Erica) Liu has won the Provost & Deiss Award, one of the University’s top honors for graduate students. Liu studies how antidepressants affect the structure and fluidity of cell membranes. First, she extracts part of a cell membrane form a vesicle, or small sac. Then, some of the vesicles are treated with antidepressants. Liu uses fluorescence microscopy to observe and analyze how the structure of the treated membranes changes compared to untreated ones. The research will help scientists better understand how antidepressants work, and could lead to improved medications for people suffering from depression. For Liu, the research process is as valuable as the outcome: “The work I’ve done is challenging but rewarding, since I’ve learned so much along the way,” she says. Liu’s graduate work is supervised by Professor Urusla Perez-Salas in the Department of Physics. Liu also wishes to acknowledge the mentorship of Professor Mark Rasenick (Physiology and Biophysics, UIC) and Professor Sarah Veatch (Biophysics, University of Michigan).